Gaspar Nagy

Dissident Hungarian poet


Gáspár Nagy, poet and editor: born Bérbaltavár, Hungary 4 May 1949; married 1974 Marta Szabo (one son, two daughters); died Budapest 4 January 2007.

When in 1985 a little-read provincial literary magazine in Hungary published a strange poem where the last three lines ended with the letters "N I" (in Hungarian "-ni" marks the infinitive of a verb) the Communist authorities immediately retaliated, dismissing the poem's young author from his post as Secretary to the Hungarian Writers Union. They realised that this was, indeed, a coded reference to Imre Nagy (in Hungarian "Nagy Imre"), Prime Minister of the Hungarian revolution of 1956, executed for "treason" in 1958.

This was the first time that many people took notice of Gáspár Nagy, a namesake, but no relation, of Imre Nagy. He was, however, not intimidated by the wrath of Communist officialdom and continued to publish, causing the withdrawal from circulation of the June 1986 issue of the Szeged literary magazine Tiszatáj, where in a poem he made a fairly open allusion to the "miserable compromises" on which János Kádár's "goulash Communism" was based. Once again, Nagy was lucky: he escaped arrest with his popularity enhanced.

Nagy was born in 1949 into a family of peasant farmers in south-western Hungary. He studied at the Teachers Training College of Szombathely from 1968 to 1971 and for a while worked as a librarian. After a stint with the Ferenc Móra Publishers of Budapest, in 1981 he became Secretary to the Hungarian Writers Union, a post he held until 1985.

For the following three years he was Secretary to the Gábor Bethlen Foundation and from 1988 edited the cultural review Hitel in Budapest. Hitel in the first few years of its existence was regarded as the mouthpiece of the Hungarian Democratic Forum, the party which won the majority of seats in the 1990 elections; on the editorial board the Catholic Gáspár Nagy acted as a moderating influence against the mostly Protestant populist radicals.

His poetry is the meeting-point of diverse influences: biblical tradition mingles in it with historical commentary and ironic observations on the state of the world and Hungary. While there are traces of Surrealism in his verse, more traditional Hungarian poets such as Attila József and László Nagy - as well as certain East European authors (Zbigniew Herbert, Danilo Kis) - also left an impact on his largely accessible, erudite poetry. Among his dozen collections of verse the most interesting was probably Múlik a jövonk ("Our Future is Passing", 1989) and Szabadrabok ("Free Captives", 1999). In 2006 he wrote a cycle of poems celebrating the memory of the 1956 revolution and its victims.

Gáspár Nagy won most recognition after the change of regime in Hungary. He was awarded, among others, the Attila József Prize in 1990, the Greve Prize (1992), the award of the Getz Corporation (1995) and the Kossuth Prize (2000). Last year he won the Hungarian Heritage Prize. His poems in English translations, mostly by Len Roberts, are in the second volume of the anthology In Quest of the "Miracle Stag" (2003), a representative collection of 20th-century Hungarian poetry.

George Gömöri

News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
News
people
News
i100
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene
tv
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

PE Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary PE Teacher (maternity cover) f...

English Intervention Teacher

£23000 - £33000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: English Intervention Teac...

Teacher of Citizenship and RE

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leeds: Teacher of Citizenship and REMaternity L...

English Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary English Teacher for a academy ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments